Deceptive SEO Tactics – The Coolest Guy On The Internet

If you get pitched by anyone who tells you they’re going to show you the secret way to build your business, or drive traffic to your web site, or that all you need to get onto the first page of Google is through links, run for the hills as fast as you can.  But how do you know if something is a deceptive SEO tactic or scam? Here’s one way that works for me…

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THE DECEPTIVE CASE OF THE COOLEST GUY ON THE INTERNET

Today I was introduced to the coolest guy on the Internet.  In fact, it appears there are several people who claim that they are the coolest guy.  At least when it comes to anyone on the Internet

So how do I know the guy I was introduced to is really the bona fide real deal coolest guy on the Internet?

Actually, he started following me on Twitter tonight.  Then almost right away I got a direct tweet.  In it he said:

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And sure enough, at that moment, the first result at Google for the phrase “coolest guy on the internet” was for Brad’s page.

Now, I really found this cool.  Maybe even the COOLEST.

Except my name is Alan Bleiweiss and I always thought that I am the coolest guy on the Internet.

No, seriously – I don’t think I am- in fact, there are probably millions of guys cooler.  But I get paid really good money from legitimate business clients to be able to get them onto the first page of Google and because I care about their reputation, and don’t want them to ever get banned from Google, I follow white hat SEO methods.

And part of my work involves digging up the truth when my clients see an email (and now apparently Direct Tweets) offering what sounds too good to be true.  Now THAT is cool.  I love this aspect of my work because I’m really inquisitive.  In fact, at one time about 20 years ago, I was in the credit collections business and got really good at skip-tracing people who were scammers.  And before that I was in the Army, in the Military Police, and I was in charge of crime prevention for the 3rd Infantry Division, and before that, for Fort Meade Maryland (hint -where the NSA is).

So I guess sniffing out BS and preventing my clients from being ripped off is in my blood.

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Anyhow, back to Brad.

Below Brad’s listing, I saw a slew of other wanna be sites.

All of them claim the “Coolest Guy On The Internet” moniker one way or another.

coolest-guy-on-the-internet

Well what’s going on here? I wondered…

And pretty quick (within about one second) I ventured to guess that there must have been or is currently, a “Coolest Guy” competition, specifically as it relates to that phrase (on the internet).

So how did he get to the top?

If it’s legitimate, my hat’s off to Brad.  After all, his Twitter profile shows that he’s a free-wheeling world-traveling kind of a guy- one who is on top of the world and not only that, but he’s out there wanting to help you achieve the kind of goals he has!  For Free!

(Oh boy – another red flag to me.  “Free”.

So I checked his main site out. The one that comes up on the top of Google.

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THE ANALYSIS BEGINS

And if you check his site, or the Google results for it, you’ll see that he hasn’t expended any tremendous on-site optimization for the phrase Coolest Guy On The Internet.  It’s not in his home page’s title, and it’s not in the meta description he uses for his home page.  It’s not repeated over and over throughout the content.

And it’s not in his domain name, as so many of the other “wanna-be” coolest guys have done as you can see either.

It’s not a full phrase in his home page’s content, or inside any alternate attribute field, or as part of any link labels either.

The closest he gets is reference / linking to the “’2nd Coolest Guy On The Planet”.  and he has a blog article with the title “Coolest Heisman Trophy Winner On The Planet” as well.

But guess what – if you do a site: for his site on Google’ you’ll see that he has over 2500 pages on the site.

Now that’s cool.  I love the Internet – it really is the coolest, and this is one reason.  I can have as many pages of content on my site as I want.  And I can link them all together in a web (uh, that’s why they call it the world wide web Alan).

But here’s the really coolest thing about the Internet these days when it comes to marketing, SEO and Google.  The more high quality pages you have on your site, and the more you tie them all together with a cohesive linking strategy, and when you do the right thing to get them listed on the first page of Google, you build a tremendous amount of weight value to every page, and to every phrase that you might come up for, even if you skip some of the more “routine” optimization tips and techniques.

I know this because I am the coolest guy on the Internet regarding SEO.

Then there’s about 208 links that Google recognizes point to his site.  It takes some fairly decent pages that link back to your site to garner being able to show up for a link: test at Google.  Brad gets some of these because he maintains a number of sites.  So he can cross-link from one to the other.  I do the same for my own business, as well as many of my top tier clients.  It’s part of a good overall white hat SEO fundamentals regimen.

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DIGGING FURTHER

Then it was off to Yahoo.  anyone who is as cool as I am when it comes to SEO knows that if you go to Yahoo and do that link: test, (making sure to change the settings to “except this site”, you can find how many links, good, bad or ugly, there may really be that point to someone’s site.  So what did I find?  There are over 17,000 links back to his site!

This guy may or may not be the coolest guy on the Internet.  Either way, he sure has something going on when it comes to building content and back-links!

But wait – there’s more!  It turns out that if you change the Yahoo Site Explorer settings from the default “show links only to this URL” to “Entire Site”, you find there are over 24,000 links.

DUDE that’s awesome.

But is it?

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THIS IS WHERE I REALLY GOT SUSPICIOUS

So I scrolled through those links and started digging.  One of the sites that was listed was a POKER site.  Ut Oh.

Dude, if by now, I’m not smelling a scam, then I must be dead.

So I clicked through.  Nowhere on the page that was visible was anything to do with his site. So what gives?

This is when it’s time to go to VIEW SOURCE.  Then do a FIND within the source for the web address that this site is supposedly pointing to.

Sure enough – SCAM!

coolest-guy-sourcecode

There’s a “LINK REL” line in that code – pointing to a .ico file that’s on his site using the HREF method.  And it’s buried above the BODY of the page in the head area.

So as far as I am concerned, this is a complete scam method of getting links.

And while I respect the depth and volume of content on his sites themselves, I look at how he got to the first page of the web for a ridiculously generic phrase that a bunch of people are competing for in some sort of competition.

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Brad’s Hidden Link Business Model = Deceptive SEO

Why this is most sad is because Brad bills himself as an SEO expert. If he pulls this crap on his client sites, he’s setting them up for serious problems.  And he’s deceiving them at best, committing fraud at worst.  While I don’t like the notion of having regulatory bodies dictate what constitutes SEO, especially given how SEO is always changing, and government bodies are really bad at even grasping the digital world, if we can’t find a way to call slugs like this out or do a better job at helping to inform the unsuspecting client, I don’t see how some headline-seeking suit isn’t going to one day want to take up that very cause…

For now though, if you are a business owner who has been pitched by the likes of Brad,  if you ever want to know whether someone is selling you a bridge to nowhere, or if you think “it’s too good to be true”, please – either do the footwork to dig, or just contact me- and I’ll be happy to dig for you.

But whatever you do, if you refuse to accept that REAL SEO, the kind that is sure NOT to eventually bite you in the rear, takes time, and on-site optimization, and LEGITIMATE links back to your site from LEGITIMATE high value sources, well then you’re on your own.

It’s sad in this case, because Brad really does have a foudation of fundamentally sound SEO methods going for him.  But then he pollutes his trustworthiness by pulling this nonsense.

Too bad.

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UPDATE

One hour after his first direct Tweet, I got yet one more of these from Brad.  Apparently he’s got an automated direct Tweet blaster and THAT just killed any hopes that Brad might be a good guy.  I have now blocked Brad.

And I sent a direct Tweet to Twitter @spam

And one final thing.

Within 20 minutes of my writing my blog article, where I only used good white hat methods, it was already showing up on the first page of google for over a dozen short phrases such as:

uncover SEO scams ( 2nd position just below Google’s page)

how to uncover SEO scams (top position)

deceptive SEO tactics (top position)

And I didn’t have to get a single fraudulent link.

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Update 4/25/09 – Spam Report Filed With Google

I realized just tonight that I had forgotten one of the most simple things that we can do when we find such deceptive SEO practices – report the problem to Google through their Spam reporting link in the Google Webmaster Tools program.  So I just filled out the form.  Let’s see what happens.

About Alan Bleiweiss

Just another guy. Who happens to have a lot of experience living, breathing and sleeping organic SEO. So that's my primary focus - high end SEO audits and consulting for sites ranging from thousands to tens of millions of pages. In my spare time I blog, rant, write eBooks, and speak at industry conferences.

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13 Comments

  1. Alan, great post! Not only was this totally hilarious but it’s a good education in what NOT to do to “be the coolest guy on the internet.” Nice research, too. Hats off.

    @michelletripp

  2. Thanks Michelle! deceptive methods by others used to sadden me because I care so much about our industry, and about unsuspecting business owners being harmed. Lately though, when someone claims to be an SEO “expert” and pulls that kind of nonsense, it’s actually fun to expose them for what they are, and I also get to thank them for making those of us who take the high road that much more invaluable to our clients!

  3. This is great stuff. Good find and good call out. But be careful – this is the stompernet guy. He’s pretty popular and may not be too happy about this.

    One last consideration – there is a chance that he is being linked to in this way without his knowledge but understanding the circumstances, this is pretty unlikely at this point.

  4. Gennady,

    Super comment and email you sent- thanks for both the compliment and head’s up. Needles to say, I just spent six hours digging into the whole stompernet angle. (See my latest blog post)! :-)

    Alan

  5. Debby says:

    Alan: wonderful sleuth work and getting it out in the open for everyone to see. Thank you, Debby

  6. kaine says:

    like the info on this site but have a question about a new coolest guy in the world jezhug could you run your analysis on him for me he looks a bit more legit than brad but I may be wrong

  7. Kaine,

    I took a quick look. He says right at the intro to his blog that he’s just experimenting to get found for “coolest guy on Google” position, which he currently has. Reality is that’s such a narrow phrase that it didn’t take much effort for him to get there. He hasn’t used any truly deceptive tactics, just fundamental Internet marketing.

  8. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alan Bleiweiss. Alan Bleiweiss said: and @DavidBlizzard just to be sure, I do, on occassion, call them out by name for hidden links and such http://bit.ly/6eLMjP [...]

  9. I agree with everything above, but i would reiterate that this guy has made a few $s from SEO and getting clients huge turnovers from the whole Search Marketing space, not just Organic Optimisation.

    Stomper have a huge following, i know a handful of people in my company subscribe to them, it wouldnt take much for Brad to suggest to his ‘network’ “Hey Link to Me and Watch What Happens” – bang – 24000 links and position 1.
    payasyougoseo´s last blog ..Search Engine Domination My ComLuv Profile

    • James, clearly you are correct that it’s possible for real links to cause top ranking. Yet it just takes an examination of the real link profile to see that there’s too much black hat in there to ignore. Perhaps over time, the “good” links have overtaken the negative value of the “bad” links, however I also believe that Google will ultimately have to hammer sites even more than they do now for the negative links.

  10. [...] So okay – if you want to hire an expert at SEO, Ms. DeLugan thinks that any real expert at SEO should naturally come up on the first page of Google apparently.  Which itself is complete bullshit.  Unless the person actually felt they want to be FOUND for that EXACT phrase.  Which of  course, is something that some actual experts have decided. Right along with people like Brad Fallon.  You know – the “Coolest Guy On The Internet” I wrote about back in 2009. [...]

  11. Jezhug says:

    Interesting post Alan.

    I also got the automated “Coolest Guy” tweet from Brad when I added him after seeing him speak at a seminar. I think the code you showed is actually part of his “pay for pixel ads”, now at the very bottom of his blog.

    Brad did use white hat SEO to get this position in the form of thousands of irrelevant backlinks! If it wasn’t for Brad and the coolest guy on the internet competition, Google wouldn’t have had to change their formula.

    It is much harder these days to do what Brad did a few years ago with automated software. Brad has also said he has given up maintaining his top spot for that term to focus on other business opportunities, so it will be interesting to see if anyone can take his spot!

    It’s funny how his tweet gave me the same reaction as you and made me start blogging about how cool I am ;)

    P.S. Thanks for the support Kaine ;)
    Jezhug´s last blog ..HomeMy ComLuv Profile

  12. Brand Police says:

    Have you had any response yet from Google re the report you sent?

    To Alan – He may have picked a phrase and stated he was seeing if he could get there, but the original post is right – a lot of the links ARE spammy. The point also that it’s somehow an “easy” phrase because its supposedly obsure, I also wouldn’t agree – for example he is competing against a number of other sites with partial or exact keyword matches in their domain name, which he doesn’t have – so he has done well, but in a very dodgey manner!

    Matt
    Brand Police´s last blog ..Comment on Google Places Local Search Changes – How SEO Just Got Harder by David MoloneyMy ComLuv Profile

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